The Philippines has aborted its plan Friday to file a diplomatic protest against Turkey over an apparent deal with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao without the blessing of Malacañang, with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. citing the “swift response” from Ankara’s envoy.
“Aborted. Swift response from the Turkish ambassador. All cleared up,” Locsin said on his Twitter account.
Two hours earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs chief tweeted that the Philippines was also considering breaking diplotmatic ties with Turkey and looking into charges against officials of the BARMM.
Bangsamoro Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim met with Turkish officials last week, even if the DFA had recommended that it be postponed. Locsin had planned to propose ending Manila’s ties with Ankara if the latter did not repudiate the meeting between Murad and Turkish officials.
Locsin had called the unsanctioned meeting “a slap at Philippine sovereignty and an attack on our territorial unity and integrity.”
Meanwhile, the DFA on Friday said seven more Filipinos have been repatriated from Libya as the fighting in the outskirts of Tripoli rages on.
In a statement, the DFA through the Philippine Embassy in Libya, said the seven repatriates comprise the 13th batch of overseas Filipinos who decided to return to the country since fighting in Libyan capital started eight months ago.
“This brings to 149 the total number of Filipinos from Tripoli and surrounding areas who were assisted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment in returning to the Philippines since April,” the statement added.
At 6 p.m., Locsin tweeted a photo of his meeting with Turkish Ambassador to the Philippines Artemiz Sümer and described the meeting as cordial, ABS-CBN reported.
“I met w/ Turkish Amb. Artemiz Sümer to clear up the misunderstanding. We both agreed to continue to coordinate all engagements with BARMM together. I reaffirmed to my good friend Amb. Sümer that my affection for Turkey has only increased w/ the swift resolution of this issue,” he tweeted.
In a CNN Philippines report, Locsin, in an earlier tweet that he had deleted, posted a summary of points on the visit of Murad to Turkey. It stated that Turkish national agencies expressed interest in entering into formal agreements or steering committees with the BARMM instead of the Philippine government.
The document also stated that there is a “lack of reference” to the Philippine government’s role in the peace process or on any of the topics discussed during the meetings.
The DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns initially recommended that the meeting be postponed as “the information on the meeting/visit did not go through the proper vetting process,” the document showed.
However, the summary of points said the meeting had already happened when the DFA’s Office for European Affairs asked the Turkish Embassy in Manila to postpone it.
Raul Hernandez, Manila’s envoy to Ankara, was also only invited to the meetings upon the DFA’s request, the document added.
The document initially released by Locsin on Twitter said Turkey “thought it was okay” to invite Murad to official meetings as he had authority to travel, CNN reported.
According to the document, Murad met with Turkish Deputy Ministers for Foreign Affairs, and officials from the Turkish Coordination and Cooperation Agency, the Office of the President for Turks Abroad and Related Communities, and the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority from Dec.13 to 15.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law, which created the BARMM, allows the autonomous region’s chief minister to contract domestic and foreign loans, subject to the approval of a majority of its parliament.
The law also allows the BARMM government to accept “donations, contributions, grants, bequests, or gifts, in cash or in kind, from domestic or foreign sources.”
However, grants and donations from foreign countries must be cleared and approved by the President since diplomacy and foreign affairs are handled by the national government.